The Bermuda Dimension
Her hand firmly grasped the skinny metal arm rest that divided her seat from the empty one next to her as her stomach lurched into her throat. Corrine hated flying and encountering turbulence was the icing on the cake tonight. Especially since the plane had started to lurch and drop just as she had managed to fall asleep. That was how her luck tended to run; bad, well not entirely bad, just never good. It was positive that the plane was still in the air, right?
The aircraft wasn’t full that night; the ‘red eye’ from London to Miami never was. It was a journey that Corrine was used to making. With an ailing mother in Florida and an expanding design business in the United Kingdom, it was the only way to make the commute between her birthplace and her new home.
The plane dropped suddenly causing Corrine to slam down hard in her seat. It was bound to be a rough night and her backside was going to take a beating. Studying the occupied seats in front of her, Corrine noticed that many of the other passengers had similar holds on their respective arm rests. While she couldn’t see their faces, she was certain that all of them wore the same concerned look that possessed hers.
A single ding sounded, announcing the Captain, “Good evening passengers, I apologize if I woke you. We are currently experiencing a disturbance in the surrounding atmosphere due to a storm cell due west of us. The turbulence we are experiencing is a direct result of that. We’re going to increase our altitude in an attempt to pull out of this choppy air. For your safety, I’ve turned on the seatbelt sign; please remain in your seat with your seatbelt fastened until I advise you otherwise. We are currently on course to land in Miami at 7:42AM Eastern Standard Time as scheduled. Thank you.”
For some reason, Corrine thought he sounded a little too chipper for the middle of the night and for the fact that the plane seemed to drop at least ten feet every minute or so. She knew that turbulence could happen at any point while in the air but that didn’t mean that she had to like it. The next drop was too much for the pins in her hair and as the thick auburn curls tumbled to her shoulders, she felt someone’s eyes on her. Brushing an errant lock off of her forehead, she turned her head to the left, seeking the heat from the intense stare.
A diminutive old woman was studying her intently, her hands clasped calmly in her lap. “It’s not as bad as you think Dear,” she said. “I’ve been though much worse. I’ve taken this journey for the past forty-six years and each year, it gets a little more exciting. Turbulence is the least of your worries tonight.”
“I understand the reasoning behind turbulence; I would just prefer that it not rearrange my internal organs.” Corrine smiled at the old woman after commenting and was rewarded with a conspiratorial smirk from across the aisle. There was something in the woman’s face that made her pause; akin to recognition, but not quite, Corrine couldn’t place where she may have known her from. The airplane dropped again and she was surprised to see the woman seemingly float along with it. The older woman hadn’t even braced herself at all as the plane cavorted among the air currents. Odd.
Another ding announcing the Captain sounded, “Good evening. I apologize for disturbing you once again but the storm cell to the west of us has moved; it’s now directly between us and Miami and we are closing in on it quickly. In an effort to bypass the storm, we are going to redirect our course slightly and attempt to skirt around it. Unfortunately that will delay us from landing in Miami as scheduled. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you.”
Corrine glanced at her watch. 11:17 AM; that meant it was 6:17 AM Eastern Standard Time. They should have been landing in about an hour and half. Trying not to be irritated at the change in her schedule, she glanced at the woman to her left and noticed that she’d actually fallen asleep. As she wondered how far this new route would take them off course, she was rewarded with another spanking as the aircraft dropped again.
“How can she possibly sleep through this punishment?” Corrine wondered aloud under her breath. It was strange that this older woman was so unaffected by the turbulence. How was it possible that she was able to sit there as the plane continued to lurch and drop and not show even the slightest of reactions to it? It didn’t make sense; especially now that the woman seemed to be able to sleep through the worst of it.
Sleep was the farthest thing from Corrine’s mind at the moment. The turbulence had gotten so bad that she was sure the wings were going to be torn off. How could such a huge airplane take such a brutal beating and still manage to stay in the air? It likely had to do with the fact they were going so fast, but the fear that something horrible could result remained near the forefront of her mind.
As she studied the checked upholstery of the seat in front of her, Corrine couldn’t help but overhear the conversation occurring in the vicinity somewhere behind her. Two women were talking in hushed whispers, their voices oddly familiar as they attempted to keep quiet. In the relative silence of the plane’s interior however, their conversation sounded loud, their words making no sense to Corrine.
“I swear that tonight is going to be the night, it’s just like it was for me twenty-three years ago.” One of the voices whispered.
“The conditions were similar to these seven years ago as well. Maybe tonight is my night; it is for one of us at least.” The second voice responded in hushed tones. “Remember the trip two years ago? They were both lucky that night.” And then as an afterthought, “I do feel sorry for her though but you know the rules as well as I do. Do you remember what happened when 2006 tried to warn 2009? No one got to go home that year.”
Corrine strained to look behind her while trying to maintain the death grasp she had on her seat. She could only see a portion of one of their faces between the adjoining seats of the three rows that separated them. Something was strikingly familiar about the facial features that she could see. With the familiarity of the voice and now the face, Corrine wondered if she knew the woman. She hadn’t paid much attention to any of the other passengers in the terminal or bothered to scan any faces as she boarded. It was her tendency to attempt to blend into the background if at all possible and developing an obsession for staring didn’t allow one to do that. Besides, she’d been more interested in observing the new lounge that had recently opened in the terminal; comparing her work with that of the other designer and deciding what she would have done better if she’d had the contract.
Her curiosity spiked, she risked letting go of her arm rest so that she could lean into the aisle as she looked backward. Just as she was about to get a better look at the face that was such an enigma to her at the moment, the plane dropped. Since she was already off-kilter, the sudden loss of contact with her seat threw her against the arm rest and tipped her partway into the aisle. Corrine fought against the momentum of the fall, knowing that she’d have a dark bruise on her left side to remind her that curiosity wasn’t always favourably rewarded. Managing to claw and fight her way back into her seat, she gave up trying to place the woman seated behind her. It wasn’t worth the additional beating to her body.
Their voices grabbed her attention as they floated up to her again. “It will only be a few more minutes and then we’ll know for sure. I’m so nervous though. I’ve never felt like this before. I’m going to admit that I don’t want to read too much into it but I desperately want it to be me. I know we all do, but I miss my family so much and I’ve only been gone for seven years. Maybe they haven’t forgotten me yet.”
Corrine could just barely make out the subtle clues in her whispered cadence and tone that told her that tears had accompanied the fervent plea. Her mind began to wonder what the woman could possibly be talking about. Whatever she was hoping would happen appeared to be desperately important to her. Corrine’s mind settled on a reunion of some kind as the likely culprit for the nervousness and the tears. Her mind filled in the blanks with a story she’d recently heard on the news about a missing person that had been located after a long number of years. That was probably the reason the woman had looked so familiar as well. With everything making some semblance of sense again, Corrine turned her attention to the tasks she needed to accomplish while in Miami.
As she was thinking about what to do with her elderly mother, Corrine started to feel odd. She had a tingling sensation which started in her toes and surged through her body within the smallest fraction of a second. It wasn’t an unpleasant feeling but after it was over, something just didn’t feel right. As she stared at the back of her hand where it firmly grasped the arm rest, she began to notice each strained tendon and plumped vein. She tried to lessen the hold she had on the metal but her mind couldn’t get the command communicated to the muscles of her hand. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t let go. As the panic started to set in, she looked to her left, thinking to ask the older woman for some assistance.
She was gone.
The older woman must have gotten up to use the washroom. Corrine thought it was crazy for the woman to have tried to navigate to the washroom during such extreme turbulence but sometimes when you’ve got to go, you’ve just got to go. Inwardly chuckling at her own little joke helped to calm her down and as the panic of the previous moment subsided, she discovered that she could unclench her fingers from the arm rest.
Not that she needed to hold on anymore; as quickly as the turbulence had come, it dissipated. As the plane glided smoothly through the air, Corrine began to relax. Everything was going to be okay; she was going to make it to Miami in one piece.
The ding sounded, followed by a new voice; no British accent and younger in tone, probably that of the co-pilot. “Good morning. We will be landing in Miami shortly. I apologize for the delay but we had to redirect around that storm. Please begin to collect your belongings and thank you for flying British United.”
British United? What? Corrine’s mind furiously tried to work that one out as she transferred her belongings from the pouch on the back of the seat in front of her to her purse. Was she so tired that she had actually forgotten what airline she’d flown in on? Normally she always flew British Airways and for some reason, she couldn’t even recall an airline called British United. Her fatigue must be playing havoc with her mind; that was the only explanation.
However, as she looked around the plane she began to notice subtle differences. Her seat was in a row of three instead of two and the upholstery that she had studied only hours before was a different pattern and palette of colours. Perhaps she had actually fallen asleep and her mind had planted her in a bizarre dream.
As the airplane made its descent into Miami’s airport, Corrine tried to separate dream from reality. Not getting very far she gave up, hoping that at some point it would all make sense. She looked to her left, hoping to find the old woman calmly seated there, thinking that it might make her feel less of out sorts. She wasn’t back yet, and in her confusion she wondered if she’d ever been seated there at all.
Once the aircraft had landed safely and was against the skyway, all of the passengers started to quietly disembark. Corrine gathered her belongings and stood to exit the passenger compartment, searching for the old woman. As she stared at the seat the old woman had occupied, she noticed that the seatbelt was fastened and thought that was odd. Trying to reason that tidbit out, she left the plane with the rest of the passengers, noting for the first time that most of them were female. All striking familiar; similar even.
From the skyway behind her, she clearly heard a voice call out “I’m sorry Corrine but we’re not allowed to warn the next one. Those are the rules.” She turned to look behind her but all of the women had chosen that exact moment to either look down or away from her glance. Not understanding the comment in the slightest, Corrine pinched herself in an attempt to determine if she was in fact awake. The pain in her forearm was as good of an answer as she was going to get. Coupled with the pain in her left side and the tenderness she could feel in her buttocks as she walked, Corrine decided there was no way that she could have dreamt it all.
As she walked through the terminal on her way to Customs, she felt the eyes of the rest of the passengers on her. They fell into step behind her as she led the way down the concourse. Upon reaching Customs, she noted the area was awfully quiet; likely because her fellow passengers were all behind her. It was early in the morning and it was entirely possible that they were the only international flight to have recently landed.
Stepping up to the desk, she presented her passport to the middle-aged gentleman whose nametag announced that he was Harry. He took the document and placed it under a device that she had never seen before. Thinking it must be some new measure in airport security, she smiled pleasantly at him.
Harry looked up at Corrine and then back to her passport. He flipped through a few pages, obviously looking for something. Not finding it, whatever it was, he picked up his phone and dialed a number.
“Sir, we have another one,” he said causing Corrine’s face to wrinkle in confusion and a small degree of fear. Harry spoke again, “Yes of course Sir, I’ll keep her here until you come.” With that he disconnected the call as his attention turned back to Corrine. “Ma’am, if you wouldn’t mind waiting over there for a moment, my colleague Mr. Maxwell will be right with you.”
“I don’t understand. Is there something wrong with my passport? I was just in Miami last month and there was no issue then,” she offered in way of explanation.
“You’ll understand in a moment, Ma’am. Please allow Mr. Maxwell to explain everything. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help to you,” he returned, the look on his face relaying genuine concern and something that Corrine read as pity.
As Corrine moved to the side, she glanced to the group of women that had gathered behind her. Recognition dawned on her in that moment; she was staring into her own face when she looked at each one of them, just at different stages of aging.
A door opened and a man of about her own age exited, making a beeline for her. He offered his hand, introducing himself as James Maxwell. Corrine took the outstretched hand and shook it mechanically, her mind trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. Nothing was making any sense and she was now sure that she was dreaming. It was the only explanation for such strange events.
“Ma’am, I work for the Department of Displaced Persons. I understand that you just came in from London, is that correct?” he calmly asked her.
“Yes. I’m here to see my mother. She’s not well. I’ve been living in London for the past three years. I have a business there. Design, interior design,” Corrine disjointedly answered, offering more information than what was needed.
“Let’s go to my office where we can talk more comfortably,” he soothingly offered as he held open the door he had just come through. Corrine allowed herself to be ushered through the doorway, not noticing the looks that passed between Maxwell and the group of women. As she followed him down the hallway, her mind attempted to connect the fragmented information in her head. Once in his office, he offered her a comfortable-looking chair in front of his large desk.
Taking the seat behind it, he studied her for a moment before asking “Have you ever heard of the Bermuda Triangle?”
Copyright © 2012 Julianne Snow